Dining with Huygens

9 December 2023 through 6 October 2024
On display at Hofwijck
Dining with Huygens

Dining with Huygens

9 December 2023 through 6 October 2024
On display at Hofwijck

The exhibition Dining with Huygens is currently on display at the Huygens Museum in Voorburg, starting from the 9th December. Featuring paintings, letters, poems, recipes, gardening books, everyday items and archaeological discoveries from the 17th century, the exhibition sheds light on the mysteries of the Hofwijck country estate and its kitchen.

Justus de Gelder, Twee jonge vrouwen in een keuken

Justus de Gelder, Twee jonge vrouwen in een keuken (Two young women in a kitchen), 1671. Canvas, private collection, on loan by mediation Hoogsteder Museum Foundation

Pronkzaal, library and kitchen

Enter the Pronkzaal, the stateroom where guests were received 400 years ago by Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens. Here, the midday meal was served, music was performed, and recitations were delivered. A grand table evokes the culinary and historical ambiance of Hofwijck. Paintings, on loan from the Hoogsteder Museum Foundation for this exhibition, depict the lively atmosphere of such gatherings, while still lifes exhibit the abundance of the region's agricultural produce.

Guilliam van Deynum, Stilleven met fruit en oesters op een tinnen schaal

Guilliam van Deynum, Stilleven met fruit en oesters op een tinnen schaal, ca. 1655. Canvas, private collection, on loan by mediation Hoogsteder Museum Foundation

Adjacent to the stateroom lies a library housing a special collection of books, among which is Den Nederlandtsen Hovenier (1669) by Jan van der Groen. Alongside De Verstandige Kock of Sorghvuldige Huyshoudster (1667), these volumes offer a glimpse into the culinary customs of the 17th century. Recipes detailing the preparation of various dishes, from meats and fish to fresh salads, provide insights into the gastronomic traditions at Hofwijck. The exhibition also features Constantijn Huygens' anthology of poems, Koren-bloemen, dating back to 1658. In his poem Hofwijck he narrates a stroll through the expansive garden and recounts how his guests eventually find themselves in the kitchen, where they are treated to an array of delectable meals!

The authentic 17th-century kitchen is situated in the basement of Hofwijck, where the original white faience tiles can still be observed, and everything else radiates the ambience of the owners' affluent lifestyle. Here, everyday utensils and archaeological discoveries narrate the tale of cooking, baking, and roasting over an open fire. Some bottles were 'fished' from the canal of Hofwijck in the 20th century, and it is plausible that they were still utilised by Constantijn or Christiaan. Finally, to ensure all food remained fresh and to enable the enjoyment of cold beverages throughout the summer months, Hofwijck boasted an ice cellar adjoining the kitchen.

 17th Century utensils

A set of 17th Century utensils, collection Huygens' Hofwijck, Voorburg

Guest curator
Alexandra van Dongen

The exhibition is made possible with the support of
Hoogsteder Museum Stichting, Mondriaanfonds, Cultuur & Co

Loans granted from
Hoogsteder Museum Stichting Den Haag, Archeologische Werkgroep Leidschendam-Voorburg